Chan Chan is a city made of mud bricks, and spans over 20 square kilometers, and was once home to about 45,000 inhabitants. It was built by the Chimu, a Pre-Incan culure that came to power in about 900 A.D., and it is currently being excavated and restored. There are many carvings and reliefs still intact. Chan Chan also has a temple where they kept their mummified king.
This site is called the Temple of the Moon and Sun, named after the two prominent buildings found there. It was built by the Moche, a Pre-Incan culture that was in power during the years 0-800 A.D., and is considered to be the capital of the Moche Empire. The temple of the sun was used for political and administrative purposes, and is the tallest adobe structure found in the Americas. Its counterpart, the temple of the moon, is found on the side of the cerro blanco, or white mountain. Temple of the moon was used for religious purposes, and is currently being restored and excavated. There are many reliefs and carvings found in the temple of the moon.
All of these pictures were taken from the Temple of the Moon. The Temple of the Sun can be seen in the distance.
Also known as the rainbow temple, Huacas del Arco Iris is a Chimu temple that has many carvings of what appear to be rainbows.
Huanchaco and Trujillo are cities on the coast north of Lima. This area recently was full of fishing villages, but tourism and surfing is promoting development in the area. Many of the nearby archaeological sites are Moche and Chimu in origin, which were prominent Pre-Incan empires.
Machu Picchu is an Inca site located on a mountain above the Urubamba river valley, about 50 miles northwest of Cusco. Also called “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is unique because the Spanish never found it. The city itself is very large, and there are many trails that you can hike that scale the nearby mountains. The most popular trail reaches the summits of the two mountains that frame Machu Picchu. It was constructed around 1450 and then abandoned just about 100 years later. It was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.
There is a town at the base of Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes, named after its hot springs. Recently it has been renamed to Machupicchu Town due to marketing efforts. Its buildings are distinctly Peruvian and it has a small plaza and only a few main streets. The only ways to reach this town is either on foot or by train. There are about 2000 residents and the economy revolves around tourism. It was rainy with mild temperatures during our stay.
Ollantaytambo is an Incan fortress in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and is said to guard the entrance to Machu Picchu. It is also one of the most common starting points for the Inca Trail.
Kenko is the site of an Incan temple outside of Cusco. It is known for the large sacrificial altar in its underground cavern. It is nearby to Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. There are stairs and other features that are carved out of one large stone in the middle of the site versus being built out of individual blocks.
Tambomachay is an Incan archaeological site that is also known as the water temple due to the many aqueducts and canals that run through the terraced rock of the surrounding hills.
This used to be an Incan watch tower and it is within sight of Tambomachay.